You Could be the First Houston Poet Laureate

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February 27, 2013 by WITS Houston


The Houston Public Library and the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs are pleased to announce the newly-established

DEADLINE: March 8, 2013

Mayor Annise D. Parker announces the application/nomination process for selection of Houston’s first Poet Laureate. Submissions are welcome from persons nominating a poet for the position of Poet Laureate or from individual poets who are seeking the position. Only online applications will be accepted.


Mission Statement: The Houston Poet Laureate Program (HPLP) celebrates Houston’s rich culture and diversity through the work of a poet who will represent Houston by creating excitement about poetry through outreach, programs, teaching, and written work.

Term of Service: The term of service is two years. The current term will commence in April 2013 and expire in April 2015.

Term Expectations:

• Develop a community outreach project in which the Poet Laureate shares the art and love of poetry with a non-traditional and/or underserved audience.
• Plan and/or attend at least 4 community-based poetry programs per year. These may include public library programs, civic and other forms of community events.
• Provide content to the Houston Poet Laureate Program web page.
• Prepare and provide an annual written report of activities.

Criteria for Nomination and Selection of Poet Laureate:
• Have strong ties to the city of Houston and a strong interest in serving the city.
• Residence in Houston of at least 4 years.
• Experience in public speaking and public performance. Some teaching experience is preferred, but not required.
• Must have a body of published work, including at least one full-length book (not self-published or vanity press) or CD (not self-produced) or at least 20 published poems in established publications (print or online) over the past 5 years.
• Must be at least 21 years of age and not currently enrolled in an academic program.


• The Houston Poet Laureate will receive an annual honorarium of $5,000 through the
City’s Initiative Grant Program of the Houston Arts Alliance.

• A nominating statement of 2 or 3 paragraphs detailing why the nominee would be a good
selection for the Houston Poet Laureate Program.
• A writing sample of 10-15 pages in length consisting of select poems or other literary works.
• Résumé or curriculum vitae, not to exceed 2 pages.
• Brief biography, not to exceed 1 page.
• Proposal for a community outreach program, not to exceed 1 page.
• If the application package is submitted by a nominator (rather than the poet) a statement
by the nominated poet that he/she is aware of the nomination and is willing to fulfill the
requirements of the program if selected.
• Completed application packets should be submitted either as MS Word or PDF documents
via e-mail to, (Note: All nominations submitted must be
complete and fulfill all requirements. Incomplete nomination packets will not be considered.)


• Mayor Annise Parker, along with Library Director Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson, has appointed the Houston Poet Laureate Selection Committee, a group of acknowledged and diverse poets, scholars, and literary experts, to assist in the nomination and selection process. The group will be chaired by a library representative who will be a non-voting member of the committee.
• The selection committee will review all applications, which will be scored on a 100 point scale, with up to 70 points for artistic quality of the work sample, experience, and other professional accomplishments, and up to 30 points for the quality of the proposed outreach project.
• Finalists will be interviewed in person by the committee in late March and early April.
• The names of the finalists will be forwarded to Mayor Annise D. Parker and Library Director
Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson, in order of preference, for their approval and FINAL SELECTION.

• The Poet Laureate will be announced in April 2013 to coincide with National Poetry Month.


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Writers in the Schools (WITS)

Writers in the Schools (WITS) is the #1 arts education organization in Texas. With 80 writers and educators on staff, WITS reaches over 23,000 students a year in classrooms, community centers, museums, parks, and hospitals.

The glory of WITS is best expressed by the students--in their own words -- so this blog features essays, stories, and poems that were created by K-12 students in our program. All material (c) Writers in the Schools 2007-2013. If you wish to republish this work, please credit both the organization and the author and link back to this site. This material may not be used in commercial ventures of any kind.

Supporting WITS will help bring the pleasure and power of reading and writing to more Houston children helping to improve writing skills, build confidence, raise test scores, and enhance creativity.

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